The call came from my son's math teacher (I'll call her “Ms. W”). She wanted to discuss her recommendation for his freshman math class placement next year in high school.I could hear the nervousness in her voice as she described her perception of his performance in her honors-level math class this year. “He's smart and very capable, and his test scores put him just above the line for a recommendation for Honors Geometry next year.” This was not news to me. My son had transitioned from elementary school to middle school fairly seamlessly, and was placed in honors-level math and language arts classes in 7th and 8th grade. He was earning all A's in his classes every marking period. Maybe an occasional B+ in science or math.
When I instantly agreed with her recommendation, her sigh of relief was audible.Bingo. It was a no brainer for me to agree with her recommendation that he be placed in the “academic” level geometry class next year. When I instantly agreed with her recommendation, her sigh of relief was audible. The tension in her voice evaporated. She had prepared herself for the inevitable parent pushback. The pushback that comes instinctively from a parent who fears their child is falling behind in the race. About my decision, she said, “That's so refreshing. Parents just don't do that in this town.” The following week, I told a group of my mom friends about my decision over coffee. One friend with a daughter in her junior year at our high school had an expression of shock on her face, and looked at me like I'd sprouted a second nose. She asked, “But aren't you worried he'll be a year behind?” I smiled as kindly as I could and said, “Behind what? It's not a race.” She's still not convinced. She thinks I'm closing a door of opportunity for my son. What is this fear that is driving parents to crack the whip behind their kids and push them until they crumble? How many news headlines about teens being exhausted, depressed and suicidal do we have to read before we get it?